Archive, January 25, 2018, why Arctic warfare?
The development of the geopolitical and geo economic guidelines that characterize the ongoing economic war for supremacy in the Arctic derive from the evolution of the climate. Following of 2017 analysis by Bloomberg (part I, II and III) climate change has involved, and will involve, for the northern area two innovative consequences : the first, the opening of new trade shipping lanes ; the second, the availability to the exploitation of natural resources preceded by impossible attainment.
Heating in the polar regions has an amplified effect due to the greater refraction of ice than water : at the same elevation of temperature the ice melts and the overall refraction capacity decreases, in general and locally, triggering a loop. That means more navigable water and more land emerged (and waters free from the ice) from which to extract.
In economic and commercial terms the relevant macro factor is the shortening of 40% of the journey time of goods through the trans-polar route, compared to the current West / East ones that see the central hub of Suez. Scenarios indicate that in the next 20 years the north/eastern route, in the area of Russian influence, will always be easier to go through; it is already usable by the federation’s icebreaker fleet, the largest in the world by number and tonnage, and the country is equipping it, from the infrastructure point of view, to make it qualitatively attractive to the various categories of commodity. Under the economic-productive profile, the relevance is energy, considering that the Arctic subsoil contains, according to the assumptions in being, more than a fifth of the hydrocarbons and gas still undiscovered ; consequently exploitations derive from on-site energy production such as fishing, rare earths and infrastructure networks and logistics of support.
Politically the situation is singular. Since 1991 exits, on the initiative of Finland, the Arctic Council formalizing in 1996 : it groups 8 of the 9 states that overlook the North Pole and the representatives of indigenous peoples. Born with environmental intentions, it has turned, over time, in an over-governmental body for the management of regional affairs : very close to the original core (the United Kingdom while frowning to the Arctic never obtained member status) has, however, worked very well in the progressive and multi-decade management of the territory and the tensions that have come to create.
The potential conflict arises from the infrequent occurrence for which, due to cyclical and/or anthropogenic climatic causes, a new continent is being created fairly quickly, with new potential and reason for new expansionary targets, before economically unjustifiable. A the forefront Russia that strong from a part of the largest territoriality owned and, on the other, of the usual mythological / populist contorts with which it packages all its visions of pseudo imperial expansion, adopts a dual policy : conciliating pragmaticity within the Council and extremely aggressive in terms of investments and territorial militarization. The second actor who is proving to be fundamental is China, permanent observer of the Council, Russia’s first lender in investment projects, which has not hesitated to modify the epochal project ‘One Belt One Road’ by making it part of the Arctic : it has declared its intention to become polar power (north and south of the globe) and has under way bilateral agreements aimed at this purpose with all the member countries of the Council. On side a series of countries, permanent observers of the Council or not, who press for a piece of the business.
Both the broad and military analyses agree that the Arctic expansion is an indispensable factor for Russia and, at the same time, it cannot be implemented without collaboration between all the parties that lead to ever new and progressive status quo with regard to actors and agreements. If the military escalation is seen, for several reasons, remote, the economic conflict, the only viable one for achieving the goals, will give rise to scenarios, alliances and stances that are constantly evolving.
This post was originally published on January 25, 2018, in Italian version on www.thescanner.info .This is adaptation of a neuronal Italian/English AI translation by IBM Watson.